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and Innovation

low carbon transport

in Europe


Towards low carbon transport in Europe

1) Transport and CO2 emissions.................................................................................2
2) Policy and Research for low carbon transport...............................................4
3) Towards efficient use of transport infrastructure and services............6
4) Towards more energy efficient transport...................................................... 10
5) Use of alternative fuels and propulsion systems..................................... 15
6) Policy and Research outlook............................................................................... 19
Bibliography..................................................................................................................... 20
Glossary............................................................................................................................. 21

This publication was produced by the Transport Research and Innovation Portal (TRIP) consortium on behalf of the European
Commissions Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE).
The brochure was compiled by Jarl Schoemaker (PANTEIA, the Netherlands), Aaron Scholtz (KIT, Germany) and Riccardo Enei
(ISIS, Italy). The project team wishes to thank Helen West for review of the manuscript.
LEGAL NOTICE: Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the
use which might be made of the following information. The views expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of
the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
Additional information on transport research programmes and related projects is available on the Transport Research and
Innovation Portal website at

ISBN: 978-92-79-23255-8
European Union, 2012
Cover: istockphotos
Copyright photos: iStockphotos, FREIGHTWISE, Railenergy, TOSCA, fotolia, Airbus, Eckhard Szimba.
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Bulgaria.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

The European Commission is pleased to present Towards low carbon transport in Europe. This
brochure links strategic targets in EU policy with research and innovation on decarbonising transport.
As stated in the Transport White Paper (2011), the challenge is to break the transport systems
dependency on fossil fuels without sacrificing efficiency and compromising mobility. The target of
delivering 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is unprecedentedly ambitious. It
means we can no longer continue with business as usual. Transport will have to use less energy
and cleaner energy, and make more efficient use of modern transport infrastructure and services in
reducing its environmental impact, and specifically CO2 emissions.
Decarbonising the European transport system relies on far-sighted policies and a wide range of
initiatives at all levels, based on substantial input from research and development. As shown in this
brochure, many developments in cleaner and greener technologies have come through industry and
research working closely together in public private partnerships supported with EC co-financing.
Because of the complexity of the transport system, a wide scope of policies and measures and research
initiatives are needed in tackling CO2 emission reduction. These range from long-term planning of
modern infrastructure and services at EU, national, regional and urban level to the transport choices
we make as individuals. The scope of interventions outlined in this brochure demonstrates how
research and innovation (R&I) is contributing to a sustainable, low carbon transport system in Europe.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

i n troducti o n

and CO2 emissions
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges our society faces today
and for the foreseeable future. The European Union acknowledges the impact of
rising global temperature and is committed to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions which are the largest part of greenhouse gas emissions that cause
climate change.
The transport sector is a major contributor to CO2
emissions because of its dependency on fossil fuels
in all modes. Statistics indicate that the transport
sector contributes 23% of all CO2 emissions in the
27 EU Member States. Despite significant efforts
to reduce emissions, transport has not achieved its
decarbonising targets. If this trend continues, transport
is expected to contribute 50% of all CO2 emissions in
the EU by 2050, if not within the next two decades.
An overview of historic development of CO2 emissions
and estimates for various sectors is shown in Figure
1. It clearly indicates the expected continuing growth
of emissions from transport.

Approach to CO2 emission reduction

This brochure discusses EC policy priorities on CO2
emission reduction in the transport sector and
the contribution of current and future research in
shaping policy. It covers the transport modes of
road, rail, air and maritime, as well as cross-border,
medium distance, and urban transport.
Three policy priorities and related research are
considered, as can be seen on the following page.

Figure 1. Change of CO2 emissions since 1990






Residential, services
and agriculture


Power generation


Energy branch
and district heating




EC, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, 2008

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

EU 20-20-20 targets
The EU is proactive in the international arena
in contributing to agreements on CO2 emission
reduction, and has a commitment to 20-20-20
targets for 2020 in climate and energy policy:

20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on

1990 levels and 30% reduction if other developed countries make comparable reduction commitments.

20% increase in renewable energy wind, solar

and biomass of total energy production (currently 8.5%)

20% reduction in energy consumption of projected

2020 levels by improving energy efficiency.

EC , Directorate-General for Climate Action (2010a)

Transport efficiency involves making transport

infrastructure and services throughout Europe
more efficient and thus led to reduction in CO2
emissions. Such actions include better infrastructure
planning and facilitating a shift from road, which
depends heavily on fossil-fuelled vehicles, to more
environmentally friendly rail and inland waterway
transport. Efficiency in all transport modes can be
increased with the wide-scale adoption of advanced
information technologies (IT), such as Intelligent
Transport Systems (ITS).
Energy efficiency requires technological advances
to raise vehicle energy efficiency in terms of the ratio of distance travelled per unit of fuel consumed.

European policy and research are directed to supporting fuel efficiency regulations, to developing
new technologies and engines, and to promoting the
market for clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles through, for instance, Green Public
Alternative fuels and propulsion systems are
based on extensive research to enable a shift from
fossil fuel dependence to decarbonised transport.
While research has led to a range of promising
fuels and technologies to meet emission reduction targets, market uptake will require further R&I
investment and other policy interventions to bring
emission reduction closer to 2050 targets.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe


Co n te xt

Policy and Research

for low carbon transport
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU signed up to stringent targets to reduce
greenhouse gases 8% reduction in CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012. To
achieve these targets, some 30 measures were identified by the European Climate
Change Programme (ECCP). These measures include directives on promoting the
development and use of biofuels in the transport sector, on promoting electricity
generation from renewable energy sources, and a framework for eco-design
requirements for energy-consuming products.
A mechanism in the European Climate Change Programme is the European Emission Trading Scheme
(ETS) that requires companies in energy-intensive
sectors to monitor their CO2 emissions. Companies in
energy-intensive sectors include power and manufacturing plants. In 2012 airlines will be added to the
list. These companies are required to hold certificates
that are equivalent to their respective CO2 emissions.
Companies that need more certificates than allocated have to trade with companies requiring fewer

certificates. The maximum number of certificates will

be reduced over time in order to reduce overall CO2
Even with progress made in emission reduction in
the last decade, the EU has called for more drastic
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. To create a
decarbonised energy system by 2050, the European
growth strategy EUROPE 2020 incorporates a flagship
initiative, the 2050 Energy Roadmap (EC, 2011a). This

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

Figure 2. GHG emissions in the EU27

by transport mode

activities, such as CORDIS European Community

Research and Development Information Service, COST
framework for European Cooperation in Science and
Technology, and ERA-NET framework for research at
national and regional level.

Domestic navigation
International maritime
Domestic aviation
International aviation
EC, DirectorateGeneral for Climate Action (2010b)

gives highest priority to achieving energy efficiency,

stimulating use of renewable energy sources, and
developing new infrastructure capacities. These improvements will have a direct impact on reducing CO2
emissions in the transport sector.
Despite efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from transport,
increasing traffic volumes have led to increased CO2
emissions from the transport sector in the past decade.
A key challenge for the EU is to reverse this trend and a
target has been set for 60% reduction in transport CO2
emissions by 2050. As shown in Figure 2, road transport
is responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.

Policy options
Emission reductions have to be achieved by increasing
efficiency in the transport sector, improving vehicle
energy efficiency and extending the use of alternative fuels and propulsion technologies. The range of
policies adopted is wide and covers emission targets
for new vehicles, inclusion of aviation in the European Emission Trading Scheme, targets to reduce the
greenhouse gas intensity of fossil fuels, and rolling
resistance limits and tyre labelling. For instance, tyres
are labelled according to their energy efficiency. Reduction in their rolling resistance will contribute significantly to energy efficiency in road transport and
thus to CO2 emission reduction.

Research is a key component in the EU emission
reduction strategy and is stimulated by EU programmes
and initiatives. These include activities to improve
knowledge exchange and coordination of research

Transport research is an essential part of EU Framework Programmes, which are the main EU research
and development funds. Research covers all transport
modes, passenger and freight transport, as well as
short, medium and long-distance transport services.
A specific focus is on greening of urban transport
because most people in the EU live in urban areas.
Transport research projects and programmes are defined to contribute to a safer, greener and smarter
transport sector.
Projects under the current Framework Programme
(FP7) focus on technological development and
demonstration projects. The new Framework
Programme for research and innovation HORIZON
2020 (EC, 2011b) will shift the focus from product
development to market entry. HORIZON 2020 will
promote smart, green and integrated alternatives, with
projects on improving vehicle efficiency, developing new
generations of low or zero emission vehicles, and
promoting alternative fuels and propulsion systems.
Given the size and complexity of CO2 reduction
options, no single solution is sufficient. Instead,
a combination of policy initiatives and research
innovations is needed to achieve the challenging
targets for emission reduction. This is particularly the
case in the dynamic transport sector where policy
priorities to improve efficiency are drivers for reducing
CO2 emissions.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe


Pri o ri ty

Towards efficient use

of transport infrastructure
and services
More efficient use of transport infrastructure and services, for example by
consolidating large freight volumes, has a significant impact on reducing CO2
emissions. In the last decade, European transport infrastructure has ensured a
high degree of mobility with continuous improvements in speed, comfort, safety
and convenience. However, growing traffic volumes lead to greater congestion,
increasing CO2 emissions and noise hindrance, as well as to more accidents, and
higher operating costs for transport operators and users.
The expected growth for both passenger and freight
transport is presented in Figure 3. Planning for more
efficient use of transport infrastructure and services
is a policy priority in the EU. Improved infrastructure
can reduce journey distances and prevent unnecessary
journeys, in both passenger and freight transport, thus
alleviating congestion and cutting CO 2 emissions.
In addition, extended use of traffic management
and information systems through the application
of Information and Communication Technologies
(ICT) contributes to more efficient traffic flows.

Figure 3. Projected growth in transport

Infrastructure planning
The Communication on Sustainable Future for Transport (EC, 2009a) stresses that new and upgraded
infrastructure has to be well-planned and prioritised
to optimise transport chains and networks. Integrated
spatial planning will contribute to reducing or even
removing transport bottlenecks, reducing congestion
particularly in urban areas, and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harmful environmental
emissions from transport. This is illustrated by
Decision No 661/2010/EU of the European Parliament
and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on Union Guidelines
for the Development of the Trans-European Transport
Network (EC, 2010).

Passenger transport






Local and regional benefits in terms of CO2 emission

reduction accrue from the integration of long-term development of transport infrastructure and the implementation of sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs).



Index (1990=100)

P riorit y


o l i cy

Freight transport

EC, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, 2008

Research has contributed in this context. Various

research projects have shown that mobility policies
and plans to promote public transport and stimulate
environmentally friendly transport modes have led
to a significant reduction in car travel per capita and
in measurable CO2 emission reductions. For example,
the CATCH project (Carbon Aware Travel Choice) has

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

demonstrated that better planning can contribute to

CO2 emission reduction by stimulating low carbon mode
The dashboard-style presentation on CO2 emissions
shown in the illustration below gives a clear insight into
the total emissions from transport in European cities.
In addition to effective planning of new transport infrastructure, environmental benefits are derived from
more effective use of the existing network capacity
and from optimising the use of each mode by removing legislative, technological and operational interoperability barriers, especially in the rail sector.

Intelligent Transport Systems

Deployment of large scale intelligent and interoperable
technologies is critical in optimising use of infrastructure capacity. Intelligent Transport Systems using Information and Communication Technologies contribute
to greater efficiency of all transport modes, resulting
in the reduction of CO2 emissions. EU initiatives and
EU-funded projects have developed smart mobility systems, including the air traffic management system of
the future (SESAR), the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) and rail information systems,
maritime surveillance systems (SafeSeaNet), and River
Information Services (RIS).
ITS applications in transport demand management
(road charging, access management, eco-driving
support and multi-modality) can also substantially
reduce CO2 emissions.
Progress in information technology has led to systems
that can rationalise long-distance passenger journeys
within the EU, enabling passengers to plan door-todoor multimodal journeys with the aid of integrated
e-timetables and e-tickets. More efficient journey

planning will reduce travel times and eliminate

unnecessary journeys, lowering CO2 emissions.
In freight transport, information technology and
transport management tools are used to optimise
schedules and traffic flows (e-freight), which contribute to reduced congestion, travel time and CO2
emissions. Furthermore, consolidation of large freight
volumes for long-distance transport by rail and water
can reduce the number and length of truck journeys,
reducing CO2 emissions.
Intelligent Transport Systems and Information and
Communication Technologies are also important in
supporting efficient use of transport infrastructure by
facilitating road charging and access management

Modal shift
A profound contribution to CO2 emission reduction
can be made by shifting passengers and freight to
transport modes with low CO2 emissions, such as
rail and waterways. For freight transport, the Marco
Polo Programme pursues this objective by cofunding projects that contribute to modal shift. The
programme provides financial support for the start-up
phase of new services and investments in innovations
and knowledge transfer. The project FREIGHTWISE
(see page 8) focuses on developing IT systems in
integrating intermodal transport chains aiming at
shifting freight from road to alternative modes.
For passenger transport, urban transport is
responsible for approximately a quarter of CO2
emissions. Research has shown for example in the
CIVITAS initiative the potential for CO2 reduction by
shifting car trips to collective transport or to cycling.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe



Management framework
for intelligent intermodal

Status: Completed
Total cost: EUR 14 301 480
EU contribution: EUR 7 930 134

FREIGHTWISE developed an IT based management tool to simplify and

standardise information exchange between shippers, forwarders, and operators in an intermodal transport chain. The project demonstrated that better information exchange decreases costs and delays, making intermodal
transport more competitive and economically attractive. These are strong
incentives for stimulating a freight shift from road transport to more environmentally friendly transport modes. The project results contribute to
EU targets for CO2 emission reduction by improving management of intermodal transport.
FREIGHTWISE is one of several EU funded projects
aimed at stimulating the development and
promotion of intermodal transport. For instance,
SMART-CM focused on the management of
container transport, INTEGRITY on information
systems for door-to-door container transport, and
KOMODA on development of integrated e-logistics
for intermodal freight transport across Europe.

FREIGHTWISE brought together stakeholders in
intermodal transport in the EU Member States.

The project aimed to improve management

of intermodal transport by facilitating
information exchange between all participants
in the intermodal chain. The project results
were developed and tested in nine case studies
covering management solutions in intermodal
transport in the EU Member States. For instance,
the North-West case developed management
solutions for the road, rail, and maritime
transport from Scandinavia to United Kingdom.
The North-East case developed an information
system for cross-border transport in Finland,
Estonia and Russia. The Central case focused on

Towards low carbon transport in Europe

the integration of small and medium enterprises

(SMEs) in intermodal transport.

FREIGHTWISE contributed to CO2 reduction by
making intermodal transport more efficient and
competitive. The key projects results are:

Communication platform for intermodal

Increasing freight volumes in road transport
together with increasing congestion, oil
dependency, CO2 emissions, and noise hindrance
are high on the agenda. This requires greater
interaction between stakeholders in the different
economic sectors. The project provided European
transport operators and other stakeholders
with a platform to communicate sustainable,

long-term transport solutions using intermodal

Facilitating SME integration in intermodal
SMEs have the major share of road transport,
thus contributing significantly to transport
CO2 emissions. FREIGHTWISE showed that the
threshold for advanced IT management tools
was too high for most of these companies in
terms of cost and know-how. FREIGHTWISE
focused on ensuring better interoperability with
the SME operational systems aimed at improving
integration in the intermodal transport chain and
strengthening participation in environmentally
friendly transport modes.


Standardised information exchange

FREIGHTWISE established a framework to
standardise information exchange between
stakeholders in the intermodal transport chain.
Implementation of this framework will reduce
delays and costs and also improve transparency
of transport operations. It offers stakeholders
the option to compare prices and emissions
in transport solutions, thus enabling more
sustainable choices to be made.

10 Towards low carbon transport in Europe


Pri o ri ty

Towards more energy

efficient transport
Increasing energy efficiency in all transport modes will contribute to reducing
CO2 emissions. To this end, European policy and research aims to contribute to
developing an appropriate fuel efficiency regulation, which will be set to support
research on new technologies and engines, and to promote the market for clean
and energy-efficient road transport vehicles.
EU policy embraces raising vehicle energy efficiency
ratio of distance travelled per unit of fuel
consumed and rationalising transport requirements
and user behaviour for more efficient movement of
passengers and freight. The Europe 2020 flagship
initiative Resource-Efficient Europe promotes new
technologies to modernise and decarbonise the
transport sector.

Fuel efficiency regulation

The longer the distance travelled per unit of fossil
fuel, the more fuel-efficient the transport mode. Thus,
an increase in a vehicles fuel efficiency will reduce
its CO2 emissions. Fuel efficiency has been addressed
through voluntary agreements with car manufacturers
on CO2 emissions and the mandatory labelling of cars,
showing a progressive improvement in CO2 emissions.
Euro 5 and 6 standards for passenger cars were
agreed in 2006, and come into force in 2009 and
2014, respectively.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe 11

Public and private stakeholders participating in the CARS 21 initiative

(Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century) have developed a regulatory
framework for the European automotive industry. This initiative addresses CO2 emission reduction and
has led to recommendations to deliver
improved measurement standards for
cars and light duty vehicles that take into account real life conditions, such as urban traffic.

2020 and by 10% for new heavyduty vehicles.

Research on new technologies
and engines is ongoing in
almost all sectors. Current
research on vehicle technology
includes optimal structural
solutions, as well as new design
concepts for cars, ships, aircraft
and locomotives, to increase energy
efficiency and thus reduce CO2 emissions.

The recommendations delivered by the CARS 21

initiative have been taken into account in setting the EC
Regulation on emission standards for new passenger
cars (EC, 2009b). In 2012, CO2 emissions are limited
to 130 g/km (4.5 l/100 km) for new diesel cars and
5.0 l/100 km for new petrol cars. The regulation is to be
extended to CO2 emission reduction for light commercial
vehicles to be effective in 2016. Figure 4 presents the
development of the share of CO2 emission categories of
new cars sold in Europe.

Research on new technologies

and engines
EU funded research is developing technologies that
will enable a further 40% reduction in CO2 emissions
from new passenger cars and light-duty vehicles by

Research projects aimed at improving energy

efficiency are being carried out in all transport modes,
they include:
more fuel-efficient engines for light-duty road
innovative power trains for commercial vehicles
that deliver power to the surface more efficiently,
including engine and transmission technology
emission-reduction technologies for diesel locomotives and marine engines
clean and energy efficient marine diesel power

electric ship technology, including electric
propulsion technologies
The CO2 reduction potential in maritime transport,
as identified in the EU-funded project HERCULES,

Figure 4. CO2 emissions from new cars 1995-2010


in g/km









ACEA, 2012

12 Towards low carbon transport in Europe

is shown in Figure 5. Research contributes to the

development of cleaner, more efficient technology in
The European Commission and the aviation industry
are collaborating in the Clean Sky joint initiative.
This initiative is directed towards greener air
transport by optimising aircraft technology with, for
instance, smart wings, more energy-efficient engines
and aircraft design (eco-design). The Sustainable
and Green Engine (SAGE) Integrated Technology
demonstrator (ITD) of Clean Sky is dedicated to
demonstrating engine technologies for all sectors of
the civil aerospace market, including regional, narrow
body and wide body fixed wing aircraft and rotorcraft.

Figure 5. Potential of CO2 and GHGs

reduction from ship engine research
Reduction of f uel consumption and CO2 emissions
Reduction of NOx (relative to IMO 2000 standard)
Reduction of other emission components (PM, HC)
HERCULES - B project, 2012

The Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in

Europe (ACARE) has identified the following as being
the main contributors to the achievement of the
targeted 50% reduction in CO2 emissions:
Efficient aircraft: 20-25%
Efficient engines: 15-20%
Improved air traffic management: 5-10%
In the rail sector, EU funded research on improving
energy efficiency is working on a range of options. These
include innovative traction technologies, components
and layouts, the development of rolling stock, and
operation and infrastructure management strategies
see the project Railenergy on page 13.

Green Public Procurement

Green Public Procurement is a powerful market mover
for the introduction of new technologies and stimulates
procurement of energy-efficient and low-carbon vehicles. This initiative is directed to national, regional and
local contracting authorities and contracting entities
and operators of public transport services.

Directive 2009/33/EC on the Promotion of Clean and

Energy Efficient Road Transport Vehicles (EC, 2009c)
aims at stimulating broad market introduction of
environmentally friendly vehicles. The Directive
requires that energy and environmental impacts
linked to vehicle operation be incorporated in purchase
decisions. These lifetime impacts include vehicle
energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and emissions
of the regulated pollutants of NOx (Nitorgene
Oxide), NMHC (Non-Methane Hydrocarbon) and PM
(particulate matter).
Implementation of the directive is supported by
the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme to
develop tools and techniques. For example, lifetime
cost toolboxes have been developed to calculate fuel
consumption, CO2 emissions, and vehicle emissions
under road operating conditions, based on simple onboard measurements.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe 13


Energy efficiency
solutions for railway
rolling stock, rail
infrastructure, and
train operations

Status: Completed
Total cost: EUR 14 666 569
EU contribution: EUR 7 999 999

Railenergy has demonstrated that promising new technologies are

available to cut energy consumption by rail transport, with spin offs for
reduction in CO2 emission and life-cycle costs. The project demonstrated
that the 6% energy reduction target for European railways by 2020 is
achievable with the implementation of common technical standards,
infrastructure management strategies, and traction technology measures
that can also be applied to existing rolling stock.
Funded under the Sixth Framework Programme,
Railenergy brought together 27 European
railway operators, infrastructure managers,
component suppliers and consultancies in a
sector-wide platform. Building on an integrated
approach, the project generated new validation
standards for the energy performance of rail
products and services, and contributed to further
harmonisation of the rail sector in the EU.

Railways are highly energy efficient compared to
other transport modes. This is mainly because

of low rolling and air resistance of locomotives,

railcars and wagons running on dedicated tracks,
and in a controlled, regulated driving pattern.
Energy consumption in the railway system is
determined by the highly interrelated subsystems
of rolling stock, infrastructure, signalling systems
and circulation schemes. The Railenergy project
adopted an integrated approach to identify
technical and operational measures to increase
the efficiency of planning, design, procurement
and operation of the railway system. To quantify
the impact of such measures, a detailed model
was developed to forecast energy consumption

14 Towards low carbon transport in Europe

Railenergy resulted in a series of technological
and operational measures to improve energy
efficiency in rail transport, with consequent
impacts on C02 emission reduction.
Toward EU technical standards
Railenergy facilitated production of the first joint
Technical Recommendation on Specification
and Verification of Energy Consumption for
Railway Rolling Stock (TecRec 100_001)
by the International Union of Railways and
the European Rail Industry. This voluntary
standard provides the framework for generating
comparable energy performance values for
trains and locomotives on a common basis and
thus supporting benchmarking and improvement
of the energy efficiency of rail vehicles.

Energy efficiency calculator

Railenergy developed an energy efficiency
calculator to establish the energy saving potential
for suburban, regional, intercity and freight trains
over their service life. This calculator is to be
used in assessing energy efficiency strategies.
Recommendations for operational measures
In-service and out-of-service measures were
identified that result in high savings at relatively
low costs compared to technological options. These
operation measures include eco-driving procedures
for all types of power supply, energy-efficient traffic
management, and parked train management.
Recommendations for technological
Promising technological measures for rolling
stock include motor flux management, energy
management of auxiliaries, and medium
frequency energy distribution. Measures for
diesel trains include permanent magnet motor
technology and on-board energy storage
systems. Most of these technologies can be
applied during refits of existing rolling stock,
even with a short service life.


in the rail system. A baseline scenario up to

2020 was used as the benchmark in assessing
technical and operational options for reducing
energy consumption.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe 15


Co n te xt

Use of alternative fuels

and propulsion systems
Extensive research and development has led to advanced technologies with the potential to replace fossil fuel driven vehicles with alternative fuels and propulsion systems
to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The stage has been reached where
pilot projects are being implemented in each of the key transport modes.
Alternative fuels refer to alternatives to gasoline and
diesel. Advanced technologies are being explored to
enable a sustainable shift from a fossil-driven to a
decarbonised transport system. Promising alternative
fuels are:

electricity/hydrogen and biofuels (liquids) as
options in all transport modes
synthetic fuels as a bridge from fossil to biomassbased fuels
methane (natural gas and biomethane) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) gas complementary fuels
The extent and complexity of the CO2 reduction challenge in transport require extensive R&I investment in
the full scope of options. Under various EU programmes,
research on alternative fuels ranges from fundamental research to market entry strategies. Demonstration
projects on vehicle and infrastructure performance and
safety are being carried out with a view to removing barriers to market entry in the key transport modes. These
demonstration projects include vehicles powered with

biofuels, hydrogen and fuel cells as well as battery electric and hybrid electric vehicles with plug-in technology.

Road transport
Contributing about one-fifth of all CO2 emissions in the
EU, road transport is a primary target for research on
alternative fuels. Biofuels are already on the market,
either as admix or as self-contained fuel. Pilot projects
are being carried out on other alternative fuels and
propulsion systems, such as electricity. However, further
R&I is needed to achieve commercial breakthroughs
with these technologies.
Policies and strategies for CO2 emission reduction have
set targets for 2020 to increase the share of biofuels
and of alternative hydrocarbon fuels. Targets have also
been set for the development of hydrogen and fuel cell
technology as economic, safe and reliable alternatives
to fossil fuel. Research indicates promising applications
for electric vehicles for short distances, hydrogen and

Figure 6. Market penetration of fuel and propulsion systems






HEV (hybrid

BEV (battery

FCEV (fuel
cell electric



GHG-TransPoRD, 2012

16 Towards low carbon transport in Europe

methane for medium distances, and biofuels/synthetic fuels, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and LPG for long distances to
reduce CO2 emissions from road transport. New concepts for freight transport
based on electricity may change the logistics chain. The expected market penetration
of alternative fuels and propulsion systems in
road transport is presented in Figure 6 (see page 15).
Short-distance journeys
Most people in Europe live in urban areas and mainly
travel short distances. Such journeys are estimated
to account for 40% of all CO2 emissions from road
transport. The EU target for 2030 is to cut the number
of fossil-fuelled vehicles in urban areas by half and to
phase out these vehicles by 2050. CO2-free transport
and logistics in large cities is the target for 2030.
Low emission requirements and their maximum range
favour the development of electric vehicles especially for
urban use. Increasing the share of renewable energy in
electricity production would then have a direct impact on
transport CO2 emissions. Electrification of road transport
and the introduction of electric vehicles are major
components of the European Green Car Initiative. This
public private partnership supports R&I on technologies
and infrastructure for alternative energy sources.
Medium to long-distance journeys
On the path to low emission vehicles, vehicles fuelled
with biodiesel or biogas show the greatest promise in
the short term for medium and long-distance journeys.
Second generation biofuels generated from biomass can
reduce CO2 emissions from road transport significantly.
In the long term, new fuel and propulsion systems are
needed to achieve the CO2 emission reduction targets
set for 2050. The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen initiative aims
to accelerate the introduction of these two futureoriented technologies with the development of robust
hydrogen supply and fuel cell technologies. Other
alternatives will be explored in Horizon 2020.

Rail transport
Railway services, including urban rail systems, run
mainly on electricity, which will remain the major source
of power for railways. Further electrification of rail
tracks wherever feasible will contribute to CO2 emission
reduction as will the use of sustainable fuels for energy

generation. Power generation is on

a path of decarbonisation through
the Emission Trading System and
renewable energy targets also apply
to railway services.
Where electrification is not feasible
or economically viable for instance in
rural areas the diesel engine is currently the
only option. EU-funded research initiatives such as
Railenergy are investigating advanced biofuels and
innovative engine technology to reduce CO2 emissions
for non-electrified tracks. Research has led to the
development of lower carbon technologies for diesel
locomotives and rail vehicles including rail cars, light
and heavy-haul locomotives, and hybrid technologies.

Water transport
The challenging target for maritime transport is a
40% reduction in CO2 emissions from maritime bunker
fuels. Research covers a wide range of aspects, from
testing biofuels as short-term alternatives to fossil
fuel to battery-powered pilot vessels for the long-term.
There are good prospects for synthetic and paraffinic
fuels for all types of vessels. New ship designs and
new engines based on the Energy Efficiency Design
Index (EEDI) will influence CO2 production. For inland
waterways and small boats, hydrogen is a promising
alternative, while LPG and LNG show potential for
short sea shipping vessels, and LNG and nuclear
power for maritime shipping.

Air transport
Civil aviation produces 2 to 3% of transport CO2 emissions. There is a target of 50% emission reduction per
passenger-kilometre by 2020. Also, 40% of aviation
services should operate on low carbon fuels by 2050.
The highest priority in aviation research is the
development of greener engine technologies for
market application, such as in the Clean Sky Joint
Initiative. While aviation will continue to rely on liquid
kerosene, promising sustainable alternatives to fossil
kerosene are synthetic biomass-derived fuels and
second generation biofuels. As a result of extensive
research, biofuels were approved for use in 2011 and
demonstration and commercial flights are now being
carried out using add-on biofuels.

Towards low carbon transport in Europe 17


Technical opportunities
and strategies to
climate friendly

Status: Completed
Total cost: EUR 743 196
EU contribution: EUR 743 196

The TOSCA project identified technologies and alternative fuels to decrease

energy use in all transport modes by 20 to 30% and thus to achieve a
significant reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. These
technologies include plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and second
generation biofuels. A further 5 to 20% energy reduction can be achieved
with the deployment of intelligent transport systems. However, an uptake
of new techno-logies requires further policy interventions to bring emission reduction closer to the 2050 targets.

Funded under the Seventh Framework Programme,
TOSCA assessed the strategic perspective of new
transport technologies and fuels for reducing
energy consumption and greenhouse gas
emissions. To evaluate policy interventions to
push these technologies and fuels in the market
place, TOSCA assessed the technical feasibility
and economic affordability of new technologies in
road, rail, sea and air transport.

Techno-economic assessment
A techno-economic assessment of all transport

modes and fuels demonstrated that promising

technologies possibly available after 2020, such
as stepwise electrification for power-trains, could
reduce energy use and CO2 emissions.
The most promising technologies in terms
of emission reduction and cost effectiveness
still require substantial R&I investment and
potentially also new infrastructure. These
technologies in the different transport modes
light vehicles, electronically driven train (hybrids and battery electric), fuel-cell electronically driven train and biofuel technologies
heavy trucks, reduced rolling resistance and
F-T diesel (Fischer-Tropsch diesel)

18 Towards low carbon transport in Europe

trains, combination technology and freight

aircraft, open rotor engines and F-T jet (Fischer-Tropsch jet)
ships, air cavity system.
Demand scenarios
The impacts of these new technologies without
additional policy interventions, such as regulatory
measures, subsidies and tax incentives, were
assessed in various transport demand scenarios.
The results indicated that even under the most
favourable scenario, reduction in greenhouse
gas emission did not reach the targets set for
2050 (see Figure 7 CO2 Emissions). This scenario
assumed relatively low economic growth in the
EU-27 (+0.7% GDP per year), relatively high oil
prices (54 to 144 per barrel in 2050) and
electricity produced with less CO2 emissions than
under current practices (3% per year per unit of
electricity production).

Policy intervention
With limited policy interventions (R&I, carbon
tax and subsidies) a maximum emission
reduction of 20% would be possible in 2050.
TOSCA concluded that extensive R&I investment
would be required to reduce direct emissions in
2050 by 11 to 13%, in addition to the above
described result from policy interventions. In
combination with a carbon tax (0.5 to 0.8% of
GDP in 2050) this latter percentage reduction
could increase 18 to 25%. R&I combined with
a subsidy scheme would promote the uptake of
alternative-fuelled vehicles and reduce direct
emissions by 20 to 30% in 2050. However,
emission reduction would come closer to 1990
levels if there were an increased R&I investment
(2% of GDP) together with a mix of subsidies
and taxes as well as the potential for biofuel
imports (see Figure 7).

TOSCA project, 2010


Figure 7. CO2 Emissions

Towards low carbon transport in Europe 19



Policy and Research

Research and Innovation has contributed to developing
targets for CO2 emission reduction set out in the 2011
White Paper on Transport. In implementing these policies, continued R&I is essential in developing and supporting advanced technologies and innovative solutions
needed to reduce the transport sectors oil dependency,
and to curb environmental and social impacts. R&I efforts towards a low carbon transport system are vital
to the EU objective of transforming European transport
into a modern, resource-efficient and safe system.
To help prioritise and focus EU policy in transport
research, innovation and deployment, the Commission
is preparing a Strategic Transport Technology Plan
(STTP). The plan will set out a comprehensive
long-term approach (2035-2050) in which new
technologies are placed in a social, environmental,
and institutional context. The emphasis will be on the
deployment of leading-edge technologies. R&I and
market entry roadmaps will be prepared for various
technologies to cover the entire innovation chain from
fundamental research to market entry. The plan will
identify related policy, and financial and organisational
elements required for sustainable implementation

of innovative solutions. In collaboration with sector

stakeholders and the Member States, the STTP will be
used to facilitate coordination of public and private
research and innovation efforts across Europe.
In parallel with the preparation of the STTP, the
Common Strategic Framework for Research and
Innovation (Horizon 2020) has been prepared and
adopted by the European Commission. Horizon 2020
is aligned with the EU policy objectives set out in the
White Paper on Transport and identifies development
and operation of smart, green and integrated
transport as a priority societal challenge.
Closer cooperation and interaction between EU, national
and regional research programmes and initiatives is essential in increasing the efficiency of research investments. This is necessary to prevent duplication and
to achieve the critical mass required for breakthrough
technological innovations to support targets for a low
carbon transport system. Moreover, information exchange in transport R&I with countries outside the EU
needs to be fostered and extended in tackling issues in
decarbonising transport on a global scale.

20 Towards low carbon transport in Europe

ACEA (2012): European Automobile Manufacturers association, Key figures, Trends in new cars characteristics,
 IVITAS METEOR (2006): CIVITAS 1 Cross site Evaluation, METEOR Deliverable 6, METEOR consortium, Rijswijk.
 uropean Commission (2009a): Communication from the Commission, A sustainable future for transport:
Towards an integrated, technology-led and user friendly system, COM(2009) 279 final, Brussels.
 uropean Commission (2009b): Regulation (EC) No 43/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23
April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Communitys
integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles, Official Journal of the European Union,
L 140/1
 uropean Commission (2009c): Directive 2009/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April
2009 on the Promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles, Official Journal of the European
Union, L 120/5
 uropean Commission (2010): Decision No 661/2010/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July
2010 on Union Guidelines for the Development of the Trans-European Transport Network, Official Journal of the
European Union, L 204/1.
 uropean Commission (2011): White Paper, Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area, Towards a competitive
and resource efficient transport system, COM(2011) 144 final, Brussels.
 uropean Commission (2011a): Communication from the
Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the
European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Energy Roadmap 2050,
COM(2011) 885 final, Brussels.
 uropean Commission (2011b): Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing Horizon 2020 The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, COM (2011) 809 final, Brussels.
 uropean Commission, Directorate General for Climate Action (2010a): The Climate and Energy Package,
 uropean Commission, Directorate General for Climate Action (2010b): Reducing Emissions from transport,
 uropean Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (2007): Impact Assessment on a new
approach for the cleaner and more efficient vehicles directive proposal, edited by PWC, Final Report.
 uropean Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (2008): European Energy and Transport
Trends to 2030 Update 2007, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
 uropean Green Cars Initiative (2012): Public-Private Partnership European Green Cars Initiative,
 uropean Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Initiative: Public Private Partnership European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen
 uropean Clean Sky Initiative: Public Private Partnership Clean Sky,
F REIGHTWISE (2008): EU FP6 project, Framework for Intelligent Intermodal Transport,
 HG-TransPoRD (2012): EU FP7 project, Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions of transport beyond 2020: linking
R&D, transport policies and reduction targets ,
 ERCULES - B project (2012): Higher Efficiency engine with ultra low emissions for ship,
 ailenergy (2010): EU FP6 project, Innovative Integrated Energy Efficiency Solutions for Railway Rolling Stock,
Rail Infrastructure and Train Operation,
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T ransport for London Case study London Congestion Charging:
 nited Nations (1998): Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.




Towards low carbon transport in Europe 21


Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe


Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century


Clean and Better Transport in Cities


Carbon dioxide


Community Research and Development Information Service


European Cooperation in Science and Technology


European Commission


Energy Efficiency Design Index


European Climate Change Programme


Framework for coordination of research activities


European Rail Traffic Management System


Emission Trading Scheme


European Union

F-T diesel

Fischer-Tropsch diesel

F-T jet

Fischer-Tropsch jet


Gross Domestic Product


Information and Communication Technologies


Intelligent Energy Europe


Information Technologies


Integrated Technology Demonstrator


Intelligent Transport Systems


Liquefied Natural Gas


Liquefied Petroleum Gas


Non-Methane Hydrocarbon


Nitrogen Oxide


Particulate matter


Research and Innovation


River Information Services


Sustainable and Green Engine


Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research


Small and medium enterprises


Strategic Transport Technology Plan


Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans


Trans-European Transport Network


Transport Research and Innovation Portal


Transport Research Knowledge Centre


The ambitious target of 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

by 2050 requires transformation of the transport system in Europe.
Decarbonising transport calls for the use of less and cleaner energy,
and more efficient use of modern transport infrastructure and services.
These strategic targets in EU policy are supported by substantial
investment in research to develop innovative and sustainable solutions
in efficient use of transport infrastructure and services, more energyefficient transport, and use of alternative fuels and propulsion systems.
This Policy Brochure, which is produced by the Transport Research and
Innovation Portal (TRIP), highlights the contribution of research and
innovation in meeting the EU targets on CO2 emission reduction in the
transport system.
Publication: Towards low carbon transport in Europe
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Union
2012 - 20p - 17.6 x 25 cm
ISBN: 978-92-79-23255-8